Urban Jungle (1999)

Genres - Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Thriller  |   Release Date - Oct 16, 2002 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 96 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Somehow director Van Fischer, who shot this movie in 19 days after financing it with credit cards and the sale of his home, manages to make an extraordinarily compelling movie out of standard sequences and characters. It helps immensely that the cast is well suited and working above expectations, with Frank John Hughes leading the way with his convincing 1,000-yard stare, and the delightful Lombardo Boyar providing ample but appropriate comic relief. They're supported by veterans Joseph Bologna and Richard C. Sarafian, who make it look easy, and Seidy Lopez, whose charm prevails in the romantic sequences, scenes that would have turned soggy had the actress done anything differently. There is insight, sensitivity and a totally believable aspect to Urban Jungle that deserves a look. There are some rather gratuitously ruthless scenes early on depicting Tommy's remarkable torture at the hands of his redneck father (whom he eventually shoots and kills), but one imagines those scenes are necessary to establish Tommy's eventual motivations. Happily, there is no hip-hop music to bog things down. In fact, it's too bad the title was changed from Blink of an Eye, which is how fast Tommy's life shifts, and it's too bad Artisan Home Entertainment decided to market the movie with a box that makes it appear to be just another rap-laced street gang melodrama.